Okay, I’ll admit it—I’m a millennial raving about “Twin Peaks,” the revolutionary television series of the '90s, but there’s no shame in that. “Twin Peaks” is now in the midst of a successful return to television after 25 years of being off the air, something that was once thought of as unimaginable. This wouldn’t have been possible without the strong backbone of the “Twin Peaks” fandom, refueled by a combination of original hardcore fans and new fans discovering the show through the magic of Netflix. The supernatural, small-town murder mystery is back on Showtime with more of the unfathomable bizarreness that fans have come to expect from director David Lynch. In the series finale, dead-girl Laura Palmer hauntingly says in reverse dialogue, “I’ll see you again in 25 years,” while in the mysterious confines of the evil-spirit waiting room, The Black Lodge. Lynch follows through with this promise as “Twin Peaks: The Return” reunites the cast to continue the beloved story 25 years since the series left off, with Lynch and co-creator Mark Frost having complete creative control once again. “The Return” premiered its first four episodes of the 18-episode season on Showtime this past Sunday, May 21. The show is edgier, scarier and trippier than the original; it is ultimately the renaissance of David Lynch.
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In the third episode of Rock With the Flock, The Daily Cardinal arts staff discusses the latest music, upcoming albums and what the biggest summer song will be.
After two years of mystifying, dumbfounding and perplexing audiences, HBO’s “The Leftovers” returns for a final season to finish off an overall brilliant series. It is the kind of show that not many people watch, yet those who do cannot escape its arresting quality. It is a hidden gem among the white noise of television, never falling victim to the status quo of a standard series. “The Leftovers” thrives at its most bizarre.
In the first episode of Rock With the Flock, The Daily Cardinal arts staff discusses the latest movie trailers, "13 Reasons Why" and upcoming films.
In the first episode of Rock With the Flock, The Daily Cardinal arts staff reflect on this year's South by Southwest film and music festival experience.
SXSW finished its film festival with the star-studded space thriller, “Life.” The film begins with a team of astronauts, lead by Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal and Rebecca Ferguson, planning to return to earth after collecting samples from Mars that may contain the first signs of extraterrestrial life. The mission goes awry, however, once the microorganism begins mutating, growing tentacles and craving human blood. Conclusively, this film is not attempting to move past the sci-fi genre tropes that movies such as “Alien” have landmarked. It does, however, bring a terrifying realism unfounded by previous alien horror films. This can be accredited to the stunning visual effects that picks up where CGI-heavy films like “Gravity” left off.
On Wednesday, Showtime’s newest series, “I’m Dying Up Here,” premiered its pilot episode with South by Southwest. The show takes place in 1973, revolving around the stand-up comedy scene in Los Angeles. Melissa Leo leads the cast as Goldie, the feisty owner of the stand-up comedy club, “Goldie’s,” which is where our oddball characters congregate and perform their acts. After the screening, the cast graced the stage and joined the audience for a Q & A about their new project and what should be expected in future episodes.
Workplace comedies have become a massive hit in television. From “The Office” to “Parks and Recreation,” there is something hilarious that can be drawn from the mundanities of typical office life. In HBO’s “Veep,” that format is spun on its head by placing this type of comedy within the White House. The series is a cynical behind-the-scenes look at Washington, poking fun at politicians with unlikeable, unethical and hilarious characters. Julia Louis-Dreyfus continually gives her most iconic comedic performance since “Seinfeld,” playing Vice President (and eventual president) Selina Meyer. The series has accumulated a handful of Emmy awards for its sharp writing and hysterical performances. Almost the entire cast appeared at SXSW on Monday, along with showrunner David Mandel, to discuss the show’s upcoming sixth season and how politics can be a source of comedy gold.
Lee Daniels, producer of “Monster’s Ball,” director of “Precious” and “The Butler” as well as co-creator of Fox’s hit television series, ”Empire,” gave an inspiring and personal keynote on Sunday. At first, an unprepared Daniels admitted he had not planned for this event at all, clutching chicken-scratch notes his assistant wrote for him. He then tossed the paper aside and gave one of the most powerful, unfiltered talks at SXSW this year.
On Sunday, James Franco premiered one of the wackiest comedies with “The Disaster Artist.” The film is inspired by the real-life 2003 independent film, “The Room,” that gained a massive cult following for being known as the worst film ever made. James and his brother Dave play Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero, the eccentric duo that create and star in the movie, tracking the zany behind-the-scenes process of the outrageous characters. Franco is also the director of “The Disaster Artist,” reinforcing his Hollywood reputation for juggling multiple jobs at once. Wiseau is such a unusual character and it is clear that James relished taking on the role. James fully committed to the part with signature long hair, dazed eyes and the outlandish, unidentifiable accent that had the audience on the verge of tears, doubling over with laughter. "The Disaster Artist" features multiple scenes recreated frame by frame from “The Room," the original shown side by side with the film’s version at the very end. The immense attention to detail shows impressive commitment to such a wacky story.
Netflix’s “Win It All," a small-scale film that premiered at SXSW on Saturday, has a simple premise yet a surprisingly large amount of charm. “New Girl's” Jake Johnson plays Ed, a lazy, unmotivated, unfiltered and impulsive man, always indulging his vices. His friend, played by Keegan-Michael Key of “Key and Peele,” repeatedly calls him a loser and he is just that in almost every way. A shady friend asks Ed to look after a duffle bag while he is in prison, warning him not to look inside. Naturally, curiosity wins and he finds, among other items, a large amount of cash. His gambling addiction gets the better of him and he eventually gambles away the money, desperate for a way to earn it back. The film has unexpected twists and turns that maintain engagement from start to finish, rooting for this mess of a man who won’t root for himself.
“American Gods” was the first screening I attended at SXSW and may have even been the best of the events so far. Based on the densely-paged Neil Gaiman novel, the new Starz television series faces extremely high expectations. With rich, deeply inventive literary material to excavate, Starz made the correct call to invest in potentially the next high-budget, high-spectacle television series on its hands. After viewing the world premiere of the pilot episode, my expectations were beyond fulfilled.
Amazon Prime recently released the freshman season of “Good Girls Revolt,” a series that tracks a group of women in 1969 who decide to take legal action against a magazine after learning that the gender discrimination taking place in their newsroom is illegal, according to the Civil Rights Act. The women, deemed “researchers,” tirelessly perform the dirty work for the male reporters who publish pieces without crediting the women’s efforts. The magazine bans female reporters, instilling an impenetrable glass ceiling that prevents female workers from becoming the journalists they so desperately dream to be. In the wake of the women’s rights movement, the researchers are inspired to take a stand and fight for their right to write. Amazon announced this past Friday that the original series will be cancelled. “Good Girls Revolt” is rumored to potentially be renewed on a different platform, but Amazon’s decision threatens to end the show permanently.
Thanksgiving is a time to be with family and eat… a lot. With those values in mind, there is no better time for the premiere of “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life,” a Netflix limited-series continuation of the beloved series almost 10 years after it ended. This early 2000s throwback was filled with anticipation from new fans and old. The revival is the perfect scenario to demonstrate the power of Netflix. “Gilmore Girls” was a hit series recently made available for binging on Netflix, drawing in newer, younger fans that fell for the show, myself included. The series is in a completely new format. The popular Netflix platform brought “Gilmore Girls” to a new era, one that desperately wanted a revival after a weak final season that struggled to end conclusively without creator Amy Sherman-Palladino’s involvement. With the entire cast reassembled, the set rebuilt and Sherman-Palladino penning the script, “A Year in the Life” functions as the epilogue the show deserves. This poetically justified revitalization demonstrates that the right time, place, technology and people can make the unimaginable a reality—a worthy revival with as much heart and sincerity as the original.
Transgender Awareness Week concluded last Saturday however, in the wake of a shifting societal climate and a new presidency, it is essential now more than ever to expand transgender awareness beyond this weekly designation. Political views are more polarized, outdated stigmas are regaining traction and, sadly, there is a heightened danger attached to being yourself. “Transparent,” a small show making big waves, is helping dispel these stigmas and crumble these barriers of hate. The show, created by UW-Madison alumna Jill Solloway, has finished three award-winning seasons on Amazon. I am a bit behind and have some more binging left to do—I am still making my way through season two—yet it’s already very clear from the beginning that this show goes beyond the bounds of regular television. It has paved the way for transgender representation in Hollywood and society as a whole. The show is concurrent with the growing need for transgender visibility, capturing the bravery and nobility of being your authentic self.
Although it was a Sunday, The Orpheum was as lively as ever Sunday night with indie rock group Band of Horses performing at the set. Gathering a crowd of all ages, the band packed in an extremely lively show, ending the weekend on an electrifying note.
Netflix released their most ambitious original series yet on Nov. 4 called “The Crown,” a partially fictitious interpretation of the historic rise of Queen Elizabeth II. The series is reportedly the most expensive television show ever produced, with a whopping $130 million budget. After binging the entire first season, it is clear that their efforts paid off tremendously. Every frame is immaculate, filmed on location at an impressive spread of British historical sites, including Buckingham Palace. Each lavish costume is exquisitely crafted for the time period. The score is bold, filled with grandiose and sweltering with emotion. Elegant and moving, “The Crown” ups the ante for a period drama, redefining the scope of what quality television can achieve to be.
“The Fall” is an intriguing series that keeps a low profile, but is one of Netflix’s hidden gems. The British psychological thriller’s third season, or as the Brits say, “series,” was released as a Netflix Original October 29 after being released a month earlier on the UK’s BBC. The series tracks police on an animalistic hunt for the “Belfast Strangler,” led with ruthless determination by British police import, Detective Superintendent Stella Gipson. Unlike other criminal mysteries, we know who the serial killer is from the very beginning.
This year Halloween falls on a Monday. We had the weekend to party, so tonight can be another Halloween tradition–watching a scary TV show while burrowing into the couch and stress-eating candy in suspense. Although it can be fun to stay in with some horror classics, I’d like to offer a more unconventional alternative: a thriller in which technology is the meddling shadow hiding behind the curtain. “Black Mirror,” the UK’s modern spin on “The Twilight Zone,” just released a third season through Netflix on Oct. 21. The anthology series features stand-alone cautionary episodes presenting different hypothetical futures, based on the growing expanse of technological influence. Each episode is a new story that takes an element of our increasingly digital-dependent society and pushes it a step further, often prophesying a chilling yet not-so-distant future.
“Crisis in Six Scenes” is the result of Woody Allen awkwardly attempting to take a stab at television. The very short miniseries (six half-hour episodes or “scenes”) was released Sept. 30 on Amazon Prime’s growing streaming network. The series further emphasizes the shift from Hollywood’s best uprooting from their conventional film brand to experiment with television. After much bribery on Amazon’s part, Allen agreed to take on the project and quickly produced the show. Unfortunately, this perfunctory inception is apparent in the finished product. “Crisis in Six Scenes” has all the charm of a Woody Allen piece, but without the heart.